Stand up; speak up

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Senior Cabinet Minister Bernard Dompok must be complimented for his conviction and commitment to truth. In a rare show of courage – not common among the ranks of Cabinet Ministers to speak up when a gag order is in place – Dompok has chosen to remain true to his conscience by speaking up to remind absent-minded ministers of the terms under which Sabah and Sarawak became part of the enlarged entity that exists today as Malaysia.

He is absolutely correct in stating that “Malaysia was not meant to be an Islamic state” when the Malaysia Agreement was signed way back in 1963, i.e. 44 years ago. This was crystal clear otherwise the people of these two states would not have supported the referendum to join Malaysia. 

The Malaysia Agreement indeed re-affirmed the nature and character of the nation that came into being in 1957 following the social contract that gave birth to the Federal Constitution. It was also absolutely clear then that this nation was not meant to be an Islamic state. 

The Deputy Prime Minister cannot ignore the facts of history and existing historical documents and judicial pronouncements to claim that ours is an Islamic state. The founding fathers who negotiated the social contract and the people of this country who were present then knew exactly what was agreed upon. Malaya came into being on terms mutually negotiated and agreed upon by the founding fathers, who were determined to forge a nation based on mutual respect for our differences, trust and a common destiny. It was this arrangement that has somewhat preserved our unity thus far. Any deviation from this sacred arrangement is bound to have repercussions that would disrupt our harmony and unity.

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Najib was only a kid then – barely four years old. He could not have understood what transpired then nor appreciate what pledges were undertaken solemnly in the common struggle for nationhood.

The Prime Minister, who was old enough then, would appreciate the process that made it possible to proclaim this nation as a sovereign state and a common abode for all its citizens. He should ask his classmates as to what they understood Malaya was meant to be when we attained our independence. He should ask those people from that generation to solemnly state whether it was even remotely suggested that Malaya was meant to be an Islamic state. 

We are very concerned that our national unity is still very fragile and under threat – even after nearly 50 years of independence. We are disturbed when politicians bent on testing their popularity go overboard in touching on issues that are sensitive and without basis. 

All concerned citizens must speak up and stand up for the things that we believe in. We must make a concerted effort to sideline the minority vocal extremists who are hell-bent on disturbing our peace and destroying the harmony that bind us as a people and as a nation. The vast majority of us who are moderate, tolerant, broad-minded, peace-loving and responsible citizens must take a strong stand against those who are threatening our democratic way of life by denying our rights and freedom and destroying the institutions that represent the rule of law. 

We hope that more and more concerned and conscientious citizens will be part of this effort to defend what is right and just.

P Ramakrishnan

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President

4 August 2007

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